Week 9: Why flow is vital for a successful reef tank | 52 Weeks of Reefing #BRS160

August 29th, 2015
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Today we will talk about why proper flow is important; give a solid overview of most the pump options out there including ac powerheads, wave makers, DC powerheads, Gyres and external closed loops. We will also hit on all the features of the most popular brands, proper ongoing maintenance for your pumps and finish with the flow solution we selected for the BRS 160.

Water flow is one of the more important elements of a reef tank. Water movement promotes gas exchange which increases oxygen, decreases carbon dioxide and helps maintain the pH of the tank.

Proper water flow also plays an important role in biological function within the coral. Good flow will keep the coral’s tissue surrounded with oxygen rich water, calcium and alkalinity which promotes proper respiration and calcification.

Water flow also serves as the mechanism which corals use to pump and circulate fluids, nutrients, important elements and waste within the coral by constantly pushing on the corals soft tissue with irregular patterns.

Strong flow is also believed to be closely related to preventing coral bleaching by helping the coral rid itself of the toxic oxygen radicals which can be produced with long intense lighting periods like those found in many reef aquariums.

These days flow is almost always provided with a powerhead of some type which is just a small efficient pump that uses an impeller or propeller to shoot high velocity water out the front. This type of pump is generally really easy to install and consumes very little power for the amount of flow it creates.

AC power heads are the most popular simply because they are the most affordable. There are three major brands which all have different advantages: Tunze, Hydor, and Sicce.

When more control over flow and efficiency is desired, DC powerheads will be your best bet. DC pumps are not only capable of always starting in the correct direction every time but they also can slowly and evenly ramp up and down from zero gallons to thousands of gallons an hour. This also opens the pumps up to some really unique designs. Tunze, VorTech, Neptune, and Maxspect all offer controllable DC pumps.

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